Beware of romance scams with Valentine's Day on the way. The FBI says bad actors step up this time of year to try to convince you of their undying love. But they are really after your money.

Lintao Zhang, Getty Images
Lintao Zhang, Getty Images
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How Much Money Have Romance Scammers Bilked from Victims?

In 2020, victims were swindled out of nearly 300 million. Elderly women are often the targets. People yearning for a special person often fall for these scams this time of year. Many are easy to deceive. These criminals manipulate victims into believing you are in a loving, trusting relationship. But it's all a lie.

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What Are the Scammers After?

You won't be surprised to learn money is the top pursuit, but these scammers will also try to persuade victims to buy special items for them. Some even ask for cars and travel packages.

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Joe Raedle, Getty Images
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What Are the Warning Signs You Are Being Scammed?

They will try to communicate directly with you after connecting with you on a dating site.

The scammers will often claim to be from the U.S. but they actually live out of the country.

You will hear from them that this relationship is “destiny” or “fate”.

Get ready for sob stories, too. They will tell you about a personal crisis and they need your help.

These guys and gals will often disappear from a dating site, but reappear under a different name.

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What Can You Do to Avoid Being a Victim?

Educate yourself  and be aware of the practices of scammers. Never give money to someone you meet online. You should also never give any of your personal information like credit card info without verifying who you are sending that info to.

This seems like a "no-brainer". but never ever share your social security number with someone who does not absolutely need the info.

Another tip from the FBI is to move slowly in these relationships and ask lots of questions.

Go slowly and ask the other person lots of questions.

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What To Do If You Have Been Scammed?

If you believe you are a victim of a romance scam, the FBI recommends reporting the activity to the IC3 at www.ic3.gov. You should also contact your financial institution if you discover fraudulent or suspicious transactions. You should also report the scammer to the site where you met the criminal.

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